Reviews and the discussions they inspire are a big part of why readers visit the Batman News comics section. So an article in which all of our reviewers engage in a discussion about that week’s titles? Why, you’d think it’s a no-brainer! And yet it took several years for the idea to cross our minds… We missed the entire purple cape phase! Anyway, here’s the plan: at the end of every week we’ll post a lengthy conversation that illustrates what it’s like when all of your favorite reviewers let their hair down and talk about all the Wednesday Bat-books. And I mean all of them. The ones they reviewed and the ones they didn’t. Even that one that everybody hates! You know the one… Even if Batman News dropped a title from the Comics Section‘s review rotation ages ago, it’ll be lauded or lambasted right here. It’ll be fun. Should be, anyway. Some of the most well-versed Bat-fans praising or debating the merits of your pull-list? That sounds like a great way to cap off a week in comics!
So here it is: the weekly roundup. Think of it like a peek into the Batman News breakroom or, perhaps more accurately, as a copy/paste of a chain email or an overcrowded podcast that you have to read.
Justice League #19
Jay: Oh heck yes.
Dan: Hot on the heels of Justice League #18, the worst issue of the series, comes issue #19, one of the best of the Rebirth era! I didn’t dig the amount of exposition and humour coming from Batman this week, and I have no idea why the team would blithely leave only Mera and Starman to protect the planet, but this was a witty, inventive installment with an ending that left me wondering ‘How in the Multiverse will Clark get out of this one?’
Jay: That ending was so oppressive and terrifying.
Dan: And then there’s the art! In at least two scenes, Jiminez captures the perfect expression of reassurance in Clark’s face. Hanging enigmatically behind glass, Perpetua looks like a cross between a xenomorph and the Other Mother from Coraline. There’s also a gorgeous splash page of the assembled team, a particularly heroic shot of Superman (complete with built-in speed lines and an upside-down cityscape) and frames twisting as Mxyzptlk gets fanged skyscrapers chomping on each other.
Elena: After skipping out on this title so much recently, I didn’t even attempt it this time, but you have me thinking I should go back and give it a try, Dan!
Jay: It’s a straight up blast, Elena. Snyder and Jimenez’s script is fun and buoyant, and Jorge’s art is on another level. That spread of Superman flying over Metropolis, sunshine reflecting off the buildings? Absolutely beautiful.
Brian: I said a lot about this book in my review for it, but to sum things up: funny, huge, and a delight to the eyes. Jimenez is Snyder’s best collaborator on this run, because the fusion of moods in his style are the perfect expression of Snyder’s own blend of tones. And if DC Collectibles doesn’t make a statue of Supes standing in the jaws of the Planet, then they’re leaving a lot of my money on the table.
Casper: I skipped the annual and the previous issue because I thought I was done with this series for a while. But then I read your comments here and I decided to just read through this week’s Justice League, and I’m glad that I did. I guess I’ll be reading this series again (until the next wall of boring exposition gets in between me and the comic, at least). I love that Mxyzptlk is in this and I really dig the idea of the Sixth Dimension. This looks to be a fun arc!
Adventures of The Super Sons #8
Josh: Adventures of the Super Sons is beginning to feel like a story that has gone on for too long. That’s not to say that I dislike the title itself – or Damian and Jon for that matter – but this particular story is starting to feel a little tired.
Jay: The original series summary made it sound like this was going to be Jon and Damian’s radical adventures across the multiverse. That would have been tons of fun. This is decidedly less so.
Dan: This was an overly talky issue and I haven’t yet warmed to the strange little brat, Rex Luthor. However, the dialogue between Damian and Jon is funny, their enormous anime hair is a sight to behold, and Barberi’s spread of the aliens cosplaying as Earth villains is a delight.
Josh: Yeah, I also haven’t warmed to Rex Luthor. He’s easily my least favorite element of this book, and he won’t go away. Jon and Damian are compelling, but the story and their opposition is anything but that. I’m left loving the dynamic of our two heroes together, but could care less about the story as a whole. It’s a shame too. The original Super Sons was one of the best books on the stands when it was in publication.
Jay: Agreed, Josh. This series still has its moments, but there just isn’t enough story to warrant a 12-issue maxiseries. I mean, what does it say when the biggest takeaway I have from this issue is that there are legion Space Cabbies?
…ok, I’m always here for Space Cabbie, but you know what I mean.
Brian: Maybe in trade, but no time for now.
Suicide Squad Black Files #5
Dan: ‘Fugitive from Myself’ is treading water at the moment; as with previous issues, Katana runs around explaining the body-swap plot to us while the Squad act as window-dressing and get into a fight. ‘Rota Fortuna’ lost me as soon as I spotted the Power Rangers style giants.
Elena: Agreed, Dan.
Jay: No interest at all.
Casper: Nope. Me neither.
Dan: There are no interesting revelations here.
Josh: That’s an understatement.
Jay: And yet it’s not as maddeningly opaque as recent issues. It’s nothing new, but I’m at least interested in what’s going on.
Dan: Tom King’s trademark dissection repeats many of his previous observations about the dark knight while our proud Selina rubs her jilting in the blank face of her inquisitor (and, by extension, the reader). Despite this, I enjoyed this issue more than the rest of the ‘Knightmares’ arc, thanks to Jorge Fornes’ art and the welcome return of the Question. Fornes’ noir sensibilities are a terrific fit for a story featuring rainy rooftops, an interrogation, and a flashback to ‘Year One.’
Elena: I got frustrated with this for the same reason I didn’t like the Constantine issue: these characters, in the end, aren’t “real”. So it’s not really the Question, it’s Batman. That said, it’s still an entertaining read and I enjoyed the art so much that I can forgive much of King’s ongoing shenanigans this time.
Josh: I can’t go so far to say that I’ll forgive King. I mean, Batman #66 is a fine read on its own, but combined with what’s come before it, the story feels like a “copy and paste” with the Question included… And as you pointed out, Elena, it’s not really the Question. It’s Batman.
I don’t know, if I had any advice for Tom King, it would be to move on. Progress the story already. I’m so sick of “Hell yeah!” and “Bat.” “Cat.” “It was on the street.” “It was on a boat.” Ok, we get it. This was great, and insightful, and maybe even cute at first… But this is basically all you’ve been doing for two years now. Let’s do something else.
I will agree that Fornes’ art is fantastic, but other than that, the only moment that really grabbed me was the exchange of:
“So you’re the answer?”
“No. I’m the Question.”
It’s a simple exchange, but there are a lot of layers and dynamics found within these two sentences.
Jay: Fornes’ riff on Mazzucchelli’s style was uncanny, in the best way.
Brian: I think there are some genuinely moving lines from Selena, and though the narrative is still abstract, the dialogue is a lot less so. I think I liked this quite a bit, though I’ll make the distinction that I didn’t quite love it. Sadly, I still want this run to end.
Casper: You know, I actually enjoyed this issue. I think that’s mostly because the art is just so damn good, but I thought the conversation between Selina and the Question was pretty entertaining too. There’s just something about that whole noir aesthetic, with Selina being this femme fatale smoking a cigarette, that really appeals to me. I also think that having the Question here makes a lot more sense than John Constantine last time around. In any case, whereas we don’t learn anything new here, I had a good time reading this one. But I guess we’ll have to see what the next issue will be like. Hopefully King shakes things up a little bit, but I think he considers repetition to be a big part of his style, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it would end up being really similar to what’s come before.
Dan: I smiled as I opened up this one, as I was relieved the ‘Arkham’ arc was finally over, but my smile soon faded. This is the prelude to the ‘Terminus Agenda’ storyline, which will be crossing over with Teen Titans…again. It’s only been two years since ‘The Lazarus Contract,’ the last arc to trade on readers’ affection for ‘The Judas Contract.’
It’s too early to judge the mystery that’s engaging Slade this month, but I’m only too happy to bring my gavel down on the other half of the issue, which is a conversation between Commissioner Gordon and William Wintergreen. In the course of their debate, the two compare Batman to Deathstroke, and Gordon (who is introduced in three frames of him stretching his neck in bizarre directions) concedes they are similar! Although its clear Jim will be sticking to the ‘no killing’ rule (and expecting the same from Batman), he doesn’t sufficiently stand up for this as one of the many crucial differences between Gotham’s tragic, dutiful protector, and a morally bankrupt mercenary.
By the way, since when does Gordon quote passages of Joseph Butler? This and the subheadings from operas and Greek mythology make Priest officially more pretentious than King, which is no mean feat.
Elena: This book continues to be a pass for me.
Jay: I’m almost there, Elena. I’m almost there.
Young Justice #3
Dan: I didn’t like this as much as the first two issues because Gleason is mostly wasted on the many, many shots of tiny prison windows, and because not much really happens. That said, Conner’s revelation is genuinely unexpected, his realization that he doesn’t care about the rules is entertaining, and I love that Bart introduces himself as the King of the Earth.
Jay: The only thing I don’t like about Impulse are the weird shoulder bands on him costume. Other than that he’s pitch perfect.
Brian: I dig it. I agree that all Gleason would be better, but Bogdanovic is a good complement. Their styles are quite different, but there’s still lots of whimsy in Bogdanovic—almost like a more playful Capullo.
Jay: All Gleason all the time would be ideal, but I liked Vik’s contribution. That splash page shot of Connor in the void was just gorgeous.
Brian: I absolute love the writing when Bart is teasingly threatening Conner with exposing him to the Gemworld folks. Great moment for laughs, but also didn’t seem forced.
Jay: Some of the dialogue during the flashback was a little weird, but I thought this issue was structured better than 2. That felt like a single subplot stretched out to fill an issue, whereas this covered quite a bit of ground.
That said, while I certainly like the book, I still get the feeling that we’ve yet to scratch the surface with Bendis’ story. He’s even said that the full roster of the team hasn’t been seen yet, and I have a feeling that Gemworld is just going to be one stop along the way.
Harley Quinn #59
Casper: Like I said in my review, I really dig Kafka’s short story “The Metamorphosis,” so the fact that the premise of this Harley Quinn issue closely resembles that of Kafka’s story is pretty cool. Furthermore, Harley transforming into a giant insect makes it easier for me to sympathize with her instead of getting annoyed with her. But the story’s resolution felt too quick, too easy, too sudden, and as such it felt very anticlimactic to me. All in all, this is not a home run, but I was entertained throughout. I do question the premise of the arc as a whole, though. Like, why have the Lords of Chaos and Order chosen Harley specifically? It’s not clear to me, so I hope that one of the upcoming chapters will shed light on this. This story needs a good reason for why all these things are happening. So far, it’s lacking exactly that, which is never a good sign.
Doomsday Clock #9
Josh: I know I said this in Upcoming Comics, but it’s a shame that Doomsday Clock’s release schedule is negatively impacting the presence and weight of this book. Honestly, this is a great read, and it takes me back to the comic runs that made me a die hard fan of comic books. And there’s so much to unpack here. I’m curious to hear your thoughts.
Dan: I didn’t think anything could top the stellar work of Mr Fornes and Mr Jiminez this week…and then I opened up the latest issue of Doomsday Clock. Gary Frank’s figures are perfect; the proportions, details and body language are so accurate that it feels as if these are the quintessential versions of DC’s heroes. And there are a lot of them, out to answer the question of whether Dr.Manhattan can actually be beaten! Just as Frank has gifted us with ideal iterations of these characters, Geoff Johns juggles this enormous cast with ease, giving us copybook character moments and revelations aplenty. We’re nine issues in and I still have no idea what’s going to happen, but I have faith that Johns has known where this is all headed since Rebirth began.
Elena: It’s definitely hard to feel any sense of continuity with this book over the long waits, but I really enjoyed how Johns is keeping a tenuous balance between all the things that are going on. This is going to be a strong read in trade, but suffers at the floppy level. Even so, I agree about Frank’s art: this and Fornes’ Batman were my two favorite visual feasts this week.
Jay: I wrote almost 2000 words on this issue, and frankly could have gone even longer. This story is so dense that there’s always something worth talking about, even if it isn’t moving along at a remarkably brisk pace.
Ultimately, yes, this will read better in one sitting. I wonder if this is how readers felt when Watchmen was being published? It had a much shorter publishing schedule, of course, but even still not every chapter of that book is constant momentum either.
Casper: So I dropped Doomsday Clock months ago because I just got bored with it and then more or less forgot it existed. I haven’t read this issue, but your comments make me curious. I guess, if the reviews stay positive and you guys are still recommending it when this series concludes, I’ll give this a second chance and binge it all.
What did you read this week? Let us know in the comments below!